Even if these characters felt like close friends, the circumstances they’re up against in “Justice League” are so boring that it wouldn’t have made much of a difference. We don’t feel the weight of the imminent destruction supposedly coming for the world, there’s no tension or risk. Steppenwolf is the single most boring villain in the history of comic book movies. There is not a single interesting thing about him and you will not remember his face or his voice when the film is done. And, when certain plot events transpire in the second act, they feel too rushed and too forced to emphasize their full dramatic impact.
“Justice League” is not as much of a mess as “Batman v. Superman,” but at least the latter had the balls to generate an opinion. Some would watch it and think Zack Snyder took imaginative and creative risks and the movie bettered for it, while significantly more people would trudge through three hours of haphazard plot and editing, coming to the conclusion that “Batman v. Superman” wasn’t really that good. Whatever camp you fell into, you felt and remembered something about that movie. “Justice League,” though, is as forgettable as the name of an Uber driver once you’ve left their car.
The movie follows in the near-world-ending events of “Batman v. Superman,’ where Batman and Wonder Woman (Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot) strive to build a heroic team to fend off the ancient, mystical villain known as Steppenwolf. They find The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) a rag-tag bunch with wildly different powers and personalities. Flash goes fast, Aquaman goes swim, and Cyborg does electronic, computery stuff.
Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon certainly gave each of these characters a big enough personality to make them stand out (except for Cyborg, who is fairly robotic, no pun intended.) Where the directors and writers erred was not developing the interpersonal relationships between them. All we really see is how Batman and Wonder Woman feel about each other, and how Cyborg and The Flash relate to one another because of their being “mistakes.” But we never get extended time into how Wonder Woman and The Flash relate, how Aquaman and Cyborg feel about each other. Snyder and Whedon prove it’s easy to make an individual superhero relatable to an audience, but far more difficult to accomplish with a group.
But even if these characters were interesting, their unique points of view still couldn’t keep this hazy plot focused. Steppenwolf is the most uninteresting villain in the history of comic book movies. You will not remember what actor played him, how to describe his personality, or even be able to call back one interesting line he said throughout the film. None of the “world is ending” stuff ever feels that imminent, or that anything is really at stake or on the line. And when certain events happen in the second act, they feel rushed and forced, sadly lessening their potential dramatic impact.
Perhaps the DC heroes are inherently flawed or their personality is wired differently from their Marvel peers. But “Justice League” proves that the “more is merrier” philosophy of Marvel movies sadly doesn’t translate to the grey, glossy pages of DC.